Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births
Book 4 Catukkanipata
348. Aranna Jātaka
“This doubt, my father,” etc.—This story the Master told when dwelling at Jetavana, concerning the seduction of a youth by a certain coarse girl. The incident that led up to the story will be set forth in the Cullanaradakassapa Birth.
Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a brahmin household. And when he grew up and was learned in all the arts at Takkasila, his wife died and he adopted the religious life and went with his son to dwell in the Himalayas. There leaving his son in a hermitage, he went forth to gather all kinds of fruit. At that time as some brigands were harrying a border village, and were going off with their prisoners, a certain damsel fled for refuge to this hermitage and by her seductions corrupted the virtue of the youth. She said to him, “Come, let us begone.”
“Let my father first return,” he said, “and after I have seen him, I will go with you.”
“Well, when you have seen him, come to me,” she said. And going out she sat herself down in the middle of the road. The young ascetic, when his father had come, spoke the first stanza:
This doubt, my father, solve for me, I pray;
If to some village from this wood I stray,
Men of what school of morals, or what sect
Shall I most wisely for my friends affect?
Then his father, by way of warning him, repeated three stanzas:
One that can gain thy confidence and love,
Can trust thy word, and with thee patient prove,
In thought and word and deed will ne’er offend—
Take to thy heart and cling to him as friend.
To men capricious as the monkey-kind
And found unstable, be not thou inclined,
Though to some desert lone thy lot should be confined.
On hearing this the young ascetic said, “Dear father, how shall I find a man possessed of these virtues? I will not go. With you only will I live.” And so saying he turned back. Then his father taught him the preparatory rites to induce mystic meditation. And both father and son, without falling away from religious ecstasy, became destined to birth in the Brahma-world.
The Master, his lesson ended, thus identified the Birth: “At that time the youth and the maiden were the same as in the later story. The ascetic was myself.”